Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy raised some eyebrows with his update on Martellus Bennett earlier today — notably that Bennett would be out for Sunday’s game againt the Bears, but few if anyone expected Bennett to cease to be a Packer by the end of the day. Per a report by ESPN’s Field Yates, that is exactly what happened, as the Packers are reportedly releasing the veteran.
According to Yates, the Packers are arguing that Bennett failed to disclose a medical condition which led to the release, and it will be interested to see if there are any battles over the remainder of his contract. Bennett is on a 3-year deal worth a total of $21 million, with $6.3 million guaranteed in the form of a signing bonus. Given the accusatory designation It seems likely that the Packers will at the very least attempt to recoup a pro-rated portion of that bonus, and the salary cap that comes with it.
Bennett had a reputation as a difficult player, especially during his tenure with the Bears. However, his on field production has always been beyond reproach, and prior to 2017 he was one of the league’s premier tight ends both as a receiver and a blocker. He was supposed to be a massive upgrade over the departed Jared Cook, but instead Bennett has struggled mightily. While he has been adequate as a blocker more often than not, his receiving has fallen off a cliff. He can no longer get downfield, and his hands seem to have completely deserted him. He ranks 32nd in DVOA among tight ends, and the Packers have suffered for it.
With Aaron Rodgers injured, it’s fair to question his motivation to remain on the team. Bennett recently stated that he would retire after this season, and the loss of Rodgers may have sapped whatever desire was left. Given his statements about retiring, there is also some possibility that the “failure to disclose” designation was mutually agreed upon to allow Bennett to leave while also allowing the Packers to recoup their costs.
In the meantime, Lance Kendricks and Richard Rodgers will see their playing time skyrocket, and at least this year, that’s a good thing for the offense.
Stay tuned, as we will keep you updated on this developing story.